The American battalion commander at Combat Outpost Sayad Abad asked his Afghan counterpart why he was short of soldiers for an upcoming operation. Khan, his interpreter, relayed the question to the Afghan officer in Dari.
The Afghan commander, who took a bullet through the chest when he fought on the side of the Soviets in the 1980s, spoke for about two minutes. By the end of his little speech he had worked himself into a minor fury, jabbing his finger in the air to make his point.
Khan, who is in his late 20s and learned much of his English from hanging around with soldiers, translated: “Sir, he’s very upset. He says his soldiers went home for their leave but they don’t come back. They are sitting at home, drinking their chai, not following orders, ----ing around when they are supposed to be at work. Sir, he says they are chillin’ like willens.”
“He said they are chillin’ like what?” asked
Lt. Col. Robert Horney
, a 41-year-old career Army officer from Lebanon, Pa.
“You know, sir. They are chillin’ like willens,” said Khan, struggling to get his lips around the unfamiliar “v” sound.
“Villains?” said Horney. “He really said that they were chillin’ villains? Those were the exact words he used?”
“No, sir,” Khan replied. “Not exact words. But I don’t just translate. I like to put it into words that you understand.”
“Okay,” Horney said. “Thank you, Khan. That helps.”
The birds and the don’t-bees
Thursday was “Bring Your Child to Work Day,” an annual event in which children all over the country are subjected to spending the day at their parents’ boring, toy-free offices.
In Washington, bringing tots into the workplace can sometimes get a little awkward — especially these days, what with all the talk of prostitutes.
At the State Department, for example, spokeswoman
opened her regular briefing by welcoming the children of reporters and federal employees who were there to observe the grown-ups at work. But things got uncomfortable when the business at hand got a little risque.
Nuland was fielding a question from a reporter about reports that Secret Service officers may have hired prostitutes in El Salvador.
Nuland grimaced a bit before delving into her answer. “What a subject to be talking about on Bring Your Kid to Work Day,” she began.
After one reporter tried to keep the prostitution talk “G-rated,” Nuland seemed to give up.
“Parents, you can explain all of this later,” she said.
Bring a booster seat
We’ve heard of witness intimidation, and now we know one of Congress’s secrets to making those testifying before committees feel a bit
. . .
overmatched: low-slung chairs.